‘Flat out wrong’: White House’s Bernstein pushes back on Summers’ criticism of Biden’s COVID stimulus plan

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White House economist Jared Bernstein on Friday pushed back at criticism of the Biden administration’s COVID relief plan from Larry Summers, saying the former Treasury chief is “flat out wrong” on one key point.

Summers’ Washington Post op-ed published on Thursday titled “The Biden stimulus is admirably ambitious. But it brings some big risks, too” argues that the proposed $1.9 trillion package could have negative consequences for the U.S. economy. Summers raises a warning about “inflationary pressures of a kind we have not seen in a generation,” and says administration officials dismiss “even the possibility of inflation.”  

Now see: 7 charts show how COVID transformed everyday life

Speaking to reporters at the White House on Friday, Bernstein defended the size of the package and said Summers is misreading the administration’s thinking.

“It’s just flat out wrong that our team is, quote,
dismissive of inflationary risks,” said Bernstein, a member of the Council of
Economic Advisers.

“Janet Yellen is our treasury secretary,” Bernstein added. “She
knows a little something about inflationary risks,” he said about the former
Federal Reserve chairwoman.

Bernstein spoke after President Joe Biden made his latest pitch for the plan. Biden has called for Republicans to support the plan but strongly suggested Friday he wouldn’t wait for the GOP to provide votes. Biden’s proposals include $1,400 stimulus checks, $160 billion for vaccines and testing, and $350 billion for states and cities.

Read: Biden says he could deliver $1.9 trillion aid package without Republican support

U.S. stocks
SPX,
+0.35%

on Friday were holding close to record levels, even as the latest jobs data showed a disappointing gain in employment in January.



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